Aspen Moon Farm, located at 7927 Hygiene Road in Longmont, entered the world in 2009, the same year owner Erin and Jason Dreistadt’s third daughter was born. It began as an idea to provide other families with the same biodynamic nutrition the two were providing their own children.
“We had a big oversized garden and we really enjoyed growing good, nutritious food for our family,” says Erin. “We loved it so much, we thought it couldn’t be that much more to feed the community. Boy were we wrong!” she adds, laughing, as she stocks produce behind the farm’s stand at the Boulder Farmers Market on 13th Street.
The market, which runs from 4 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday, turned out the best place for us to meet. Jason was a landscaper before the farm took off, which proved quite helpful for irrigation, machinery and building.
“See, I have everything in my head,” Erin explained when she reappeared. All of the details — the emails with special requests and orders, “like bulk tomatoes or this amount of raspberries.” Because the farm is small-scale, these details live in Erin’s head, one of the challenges she often faces (along with many small business owners).
The farm offers a CSA that currently has 200 members.
Aspen Moon Farm roots
Initially starting with a half acre — the front yard of the two-acre Longmont property Erin and her husband owned — they began to plow the front yard, gradually adding a hoop house (a little different than a greenhouse in that there is no supplemental light or heat, and plants still grow in the earth as opposed to pots), and began leasing more land little by little. Today the farm spans 99 acres!
Aspen Moon Farm grows organic vegetables, organic flowers, plants and seeds, heritage grains, and refines its offerings to what grows well in the area and what the community wants.
“It pretty much took all of our attention and energy from the get-go,” Erin says. Ten years later, it’s still a lot of work, but their operation has changed.
Early on as gardeners, the two were exposed to biodynamic practices, a practice of organic farming based on 100-year old practices from European peasant farmers who treat their farm as a living organism using its own compost to fertilize the soil and rotating crops in the fields.
“Applying “Biodynamic Preparations” is the biggest thing and that is the main requirement (beyond being Organic certified first) for being certified Biodynamic,” Erin says. “These Biodynamic preps are made up of all-natural ingredients: mostly composted cow manure and herbs like chamomile and valerian; sometimes eggshells, etc.”
Aspen Moon Farm applies these by spraying them on the fields or directly on the crops, where they act like homeopathic remedies.
Small-farming in Boulder
Erin, who has previous experience in social work which is applicable to managing a lot of people, says the hours are long and the farm demands a lot.
Aspen Moon Farm is open and operating six days a week. “It’s not for everyone. But that’s what the farm demands,” Erin says.
Some of the challenges of farming in Boulder county include cost of land and water, as well as cost of living which makes for a heightened cost of labor. Additionally, limited county regulations for agriculture create some difficulties in terms of access to farm worker housing and building farm infrastructure.
Along with its 25 employees, Erin’s oldest daughter helps out at times by working the register. Erin and her husband Jason switch off market days, and their two other daughters also help out.